Tags: Body & Mind, cellphones, Children, health, IT and Media, psychology, relationships, technology
By Zachary Stieber
Steve Jobs, the Apple visionary, didn’t let his children use iPhones or iPads when he was alive.
Jobs, who helped create many of Apple’s most famous products, was the father of two teenage girls and a son before he passed away in 2011.
New York Times reporter Nick Bilton recently revealed a portion of an interview he once had with Jobs.
“So, your kids must love the iPad?” Bilton asked.
“They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home,” Jobs responded.
“‘m sure I responded with a gasp and dumbfounded silence. I had imagined the Jobs’s household was like a nerd’s paradise: that the walls were giant touch screens, the dining table was made from tiles of iPads and that iPods were handed out to guests like chocolates on a pillow,” Bilton added. “Nope, Mr. Jobs told me, not even close.”
Jobs didn’t elaborate in the interview, but Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, confirmed that Jobs valued time with his family away from screens.
“Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” Isaacson wrote.
“No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”
The NYT article includes quotes from a number of those involved in the tech world who also strictly limit their children’s screen time, including banning all gadgets on school nights.
“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules,” Chris Anderson, CEO of 3d Robotics, said of his five children, 6 to 17. “That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
Bilton says that the dangers he refers to include harmful content such as pornography, cyber bullying, and becoming addicted to devices.
Tags: Body & Mind, China, Food, health, technology
By Lu Chen
In ancient China, as the myths goes, the Emperor would use silver chopsticks to eat his food—because they would turn black if the food they touched contained poison.
Modern China now has an app for that: Smart Chopsticks, which promise to detect contaminated water, “gutter oil,” and chemicals in foods.
The product aims to respond to Chinese peoples’ general wariness about what they eat in the face of constant scandals of fake meat, gutter oil—that is, the stuff produced by underground workshops that use leftover oils and animal fats collected from the gutters outside restaurants—and chemical-laced rice and baby formulas.
Like the newest smartphone, the product was unveiled at a tech presentation held by Robin Li, the chairman and chief executive officer of Baidu Inc., China’s largest search engine. The chopsticks connect to a phone app using Bluetooth.
“Bringing Chinese people healthy living,” the slogan said at the Baidu Technology Innovation Conference in Beijing on Sept. 3.
“They can detect gutter oil,” Li said, to audience applause.
The device has three basic functions: it can analyze the quality of oil it touches and grade it superior, good, or bad. It can identify the pH levels, a measure of acidity or alkalinity, of liquids. Finally, it is supposed to be able to analyze the level of sweetness and even origin of fruits.
Data collected by the chopsticks is then beamed to the phone app, which analyzes the information and sends a conclusion to the chopsticks. An LED on the devices then lights up: blue means good quality, red means stay away.
Baidu released a video of the Smart Chopsticks on April Fool’s Day this year. The video went viral online, but was taken as a prank.
“But now we have the product made,” Robin Li said. Baidu hasn’t given a timeline for when it will be put on the market.
Reaction online was a mixture of excitement at the product and disappointment that such a product was necessary. “If the safety of our food is guaranteed, would we need something like these chopsticks??” wrote cheer_liu.
Food safety has become a major social issue in China in recent years. The regime on Wednesday announced prison sentences for up to eight years of 39 people in 17 food safety cases. They were guilty of adding chemical contaminants, like industrial salt, during the processing of meat, seafood, vegetables, and even medications. The court says one group produced and sold three tons of contaminated bean sprouts per day.
In 2013, police in the coastal city of Wenzhou uncovered 10 underground mills that used massive amounts of chemical additives and coloring agents to clean out-of-date meat and sell it to the public. The Ministry of Public Security in 2013 released a warning to consumers in Shanghai that recent lamb products may have been either rat, fox, or mink meat.
One of China’s biggest dairy companies, the Sanlu Group, was found to have produced baby formula containing melamine, a deadly chemical, in 2008. The poisoning led to the deaths of six babies and illnesses of over 300,000.
“There’s no food for us to eat,” wrote Internet user KathieCANke on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “Everything’s poisoned.”
Tags: Body & Mind, IT and Media, psychology, relationships, Science, sustainable development, technology
Children who spend five days away from their smartphones, televisions and other screens were substantially better at reading facial emotions afterwards, a new study has found.
The UCLA study suggests that children’s social skills are hurt by spending less and less time interacting face-to-face (Uhls et al., 2014).
Professor Patricia Greenfield, who co-authored the study, said:
“Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs.
Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs.
The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”
Tags: Body & Mind, cellphones, Children, environmental issues, health, IT and Media, Society, sustainable development, technology
By June Fakkert
NEW YORK—Scientists don’t all agree about how much electromagnetic radiation risks cellphones and other devices pose to fetuses and young children, but governments, health organizations, and insurance companies are advocating precautions.
The rapid development of a baby in the womb is a stunningly delicate process, and disruptions to it can have life-long repercussions.
“We know that exposures that occur during pregnancy can have life-long impact due to these window periods of vulnerability that occur as the brain grows and develops,” said Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein, an integrative pediatric neurologist board-certified in adult and child neurology and pediatrics. She spoke at a recent press conference for the BabySafe Wireless Project, an initiative to raise awareness about risks of electromagnetic exposure in young children.
Children have smaller brains, thinner skulls, softer brain tissue, and a higher number of rapidly dividing cells, which makes them more susceptible to damage from cellphone exposure than adults, Dr. Shetreat-Klein said.
“Disturbing scientific data continues to be revealed regarding the effects of cellphone radiation on developing brains.”
One such study was lead by Dr. Hugh Taylor, chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine.
Researchers put cellphones in the cages of pregnant mice, turned some of the cellphones on continuously during the pregnancy, and kept others completely off. The young mice whose mothers were exposed to radiation from the activated cellphones were more hyperactive and had poorer memories than the young mice whose mothers lived with the powered-off cellphones.
“They were running around these cages bouncing off the walls, not a care in the world, something that in our eyes resembles attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children,” Taylor said at the press conference.
Electromagnetic Fields and Common Sense
Underlying the debate about the risks of electromagnetic radiation is the fact that electromagnetic fields can be natural—such as the build-up of ions in the air before a thunderstorm, as well as manmade—such as the energy of a microwave oven that boils your tea water in two to three minutes.
The frequency of an electromagnetic field determines its effect on the human body. So while we aren’t afraid of being exposed to pre-storm air, common sense (and manufacturer safety mechanisms) stop us from sticking our hands into an active microwave to see if our water is hot.
The frequency of the radiation emitted by cellphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi routers falls somewhere between storm air and microwaves, and their safety profile is a murky gray area that requires consumers to stay informed and aware, and to take precautions—even if the science isn’t conclusive.
Cellphone Safety Standards
A reason researchers aren’t likely to definitively prove that cellphone radiation harms children is that it would be unethical to conduct necessary studies. Such experiments would require test and control groups, and no parent would sign up their child to be in the test group, Dr. Devra Davis points out.
Davis is the president of Environmental Health Trust and award-winning author of “Disconnect: The Truth About Cellphone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.”
According to Davis, cellphones were originally tested on full-grown men and have never been tested on women and children.
Cellphone safety standards have also not been updated in 17 years, since smartphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi became ubiquitous, and the sight of a radiation-emitting device in a child’s hand became common.
Now toy manufacturers produce plastic teething cases with colorful plastic bells and whistles that allow the youngest babies to get really close to their screens, reminding Davis of the baby suits that were once made with asbestos fibers.
The take-home message is one of precaution—that every parent can limit young children’s electromagnetic exposure.
You can keep yourself updated on Twitter with #knowyourexposure
Below is a summary of what some concerned parties say about radiation and exposure to children:
The United States government does not acknowledge known risk of using cellphones that have a specific absorption rate (SAR—the amount of radio frequency absorbed by the body) of 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) or less.
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland rated the Apple iPhone 4 at 1.07 W/kg and the Samsung SGH-E330 at 1.17 W/kg. Nokia and Motorola phones tested lower, according to the report.
The European Parliament recommends that schools and classrooms “give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren on school premises.”
French law requires that all cellphones sold in the country have SAR clearly labeled as well as the recommendation that users limit cellphone exposure to their heads by using a headset. It also bans advertising cellphones to children under 14 years old and bans giving or selling any device specifically designed for children under 6 that emits radio frequency.
Israel has banned Wi-Fi in preschool and kindergarten classrooms and limited the Wi-Fi to an hour a day in first- to third-grade classrooms.
Belgium has banned the sale of mobile phones to children under 7.
The World Health Organization reports that so far “no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use”; however, it also cautions that “the electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
High priority on the World Health Organization’s research agenda is developing a better understanding of the effects of radiation in utero and on young children.
The German Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents limit children’s use of mobile phones.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said that children “are disproportionately impacted by all environmental exposures, including cellphone radiation,” in a letter last year urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt radiation standards that protect children. The AAP also recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2.
In the past, Lloyds of London and Swiss Re, two major re-insurers, have both refused to cover cellphone companies for health-related lawsuits filed by cellphone users.
In 2010, Lloyds wrote that “EMF cases could be more complex than asbestos claims” and in its 2013 report on emerging risks, Swiss Re put the “unforeseen consequences of electromagnetic fields” in the highest impact category for 10 years down the road.
10 Ways to Reduce Your Wireless Exposure
BabySafeProject.org gives the following tips:
1. Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body (that is, in a pocket or bra).
2. Avoid holding any wireless device against your body when in use.
3. Use your cellphone on speaker setting or with an “air tube” headset.
4. Avoid using your wireless device in cars, trains, or elevators.
5. Avoid cordless phones, especially where you sleep.
6. Whenever possible, connect to the Internet with wired cables.
7. When using Wi-Fi, connect only to download, then disconnect.
8. Avoid prolonged or direct exposure to Wi-Fi routers.
9. Unplug your home Wi-Fi router when not in use (that is, at bedtime).
10. Sleep as far away from wireless utility meters (“smart” meters) as possible.
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Tags: archaeology, Culture, Science, Society, technology
By Leonardo Vintini
Many people think modern technology is very advanced, but according to Dr. Peter J. Lu, post-doctoral research fellow at Harvard University, Chinese people in 4,500 B.C. did a better job making flat and smooth surfaces than we can nowadays with our best polishing technologies.
Dr. Lu, who worked with his team in the study of four ancient Chinese axes discovered in the 1990s, knows well what he’s talking about when he mentions polishing. The researcher submitted the Neolithic artifacts to a number of scientific tests, determined to come to the conclusion that the axes only could have been made using advanced techniques involving diamond.
Belonging to the Sanxingcun and Liangzhu cultures, the four ceremonial axes were dated between 2,500 and 4,500 B.C. Although in the beginning it was believed that the material used for the polishing was quartz, Lu’s team demonstrated that this is an erroneous idea.
The axes were submitted to electronic ultrasound examination, radio-graphical diffraction, and examination by electron microscope. It was determined that 40 percent of the axes was composed of corundum, a rock also known as ruby when it is red. Corundum is well known for being the second hardest material on the planet. The fine polishing work exhibited on these artifacts could have only been achieved by employing the one material harder than corundum—diamond—which had previously been believed to be first used in 500 B.C. in India.
To confirm the hypothesis, Lu took samples of the oldest axe and used a modern machine with diamond, albumin, and silica to polish them.
To the amazement of the scientists, the electron microscope confirmed that the polishing that resembled the ancient axes most closely was the one done with diamond. In fact, the craft that was carried out on the axes centuries before our era was more exquisite than the work done with modern precision instruments.
Through the study of these ceremonial Chinese axes, scientists now possess a more solid knowledge about the polishing techniques of antiquity, enabling them to explain the abundance of finely carved objects like jade. Nevertheless, many questions still exist in regard to how Chinese “cavemen” could have made the finest and smoothest axes history has ever known.
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Tags: archaeology, Chinese culture, funny things, Science, technology
In the early 1900s, divers looking for sponges in the Antikythera area between Crete and Greece came upon one of the most mysterious discoveries the world has ever seen—the Antikythera Mechanism.
The device was being carried on a Roman ship that was wrecked between 80 and 60 B.C. The ship was believed to have been sailing to the Anatolian Peninsula (also called Asia Minor) to what is now Turkey and was carrying some of the finest works of art of its day. The divers found over 200 amphorae, or ceramic jars, which were still intact on the sea floor.
After the device was found, it wasn’t until 50 years later that an Australian archaeologist using X-rays began to discover that there was a lot more to the mystery piece than was originally thought. However, due to limited technology at the time, the actual function of the Antikythera Mechanism wasn’t known until decades later.
In 2005, using sophisticated software and technology, it was finally discovered that the Antikythera Mechanism was an astronomical device, and by using it, one could navigate one’s position at sea by charting the stars in the skies.
It was also an astrological device. By setting it to a particular day, such as a person’s birth date, one could see how the stars and planets would line up for that person. Using it as a timeline, one could then tell that person’s future by looking at the planets’ alignment for decades to come.
The device could also predict lunar phases, lunar eclipses, and the positions of the sun and moon for years to follow. Later it was also found that the device could predict the motion of the planets, and cast horoscopes for planning future festivals and events in the ancient world.
Mathias Buttet, director of Research and Development at the Swiss watchmaking company Hublot, said, “It includes ingenious features which are not found in modern watchmaking.” Buttet has managed to recreate a smaller version of the device the size of an average wrist watch.
Altogether, the Antikythera Mechanism used about 30 gear wheels, with very sophisticated and intricate parts that all interconnect. Researchers are still not sure who created the device or what its true purpose ultimately was.
The Antikythera Mechanism, along with other artifacts found at the shipwreck, can be viewed at the exhibition “The Antikythera Shipwreck: the Ship, the Treasures, the Mechanism,” which will continue to run at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece, from now through Aug. 31, 2013.
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More in Beyond Science
Tags: Society, technology
By Jack Phillips
A teenager in California created a 20-second cell phone charger, winning a $50,000 prize on Friday, it was reported.
Eesha Khare, 18, of Saratoga, got the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award for creating a storage device that can be charged in between 20 and 30 seconds.
“My cellphone battery always dies,” Khare told NBC News as to why she chose to work on the project.
The super-capacitor that she came up with can fit inside a cell phone.
“The best part of my project was seeing its practical application. After charging my super capacitor for 20 seconds, I was able to light a LED device and that’s an amazing accomplishment,” Khare told DNAIndia.
She added that the device can last for 10,000 charge-recharge cycles, more than 10 times more than normal rechargeable batteries.
The device has only been tested on LEDs but NBC reported that the device might be able to work on other devices.
“It is also flexible, so it can be used in rollup displays and clothing and fabric,” Khare said. “It has a lot of different applications and advantages over batteries in that sense.”
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, Culture, documentary, environmental issues, film, human rights, IT and Media, labor camps, Nature, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents, Science, Society, sustainable development, technology
Since I have not posted any articles in a long time I will post some so you can select those that are of interest to you.
By Sarah Laskow
We have seen a lot of solar chargers in our day. And among all of them, this is the first one we’ve seen that we will definitely run out and buy as soon as it’s made available in the U.S. It’s a portable socket that gets its power from the sun rather than the grid. You plug into a window instead of into the wall. It’s easy.
By Joshua Philipp
Epoch Times Staff
Watching the soft glow of fireflies could become a more common activity if researchers at Syracuse University have anything to do with it. They’re developing a method to artificially create luciferase, the chemical behind the soft glow of fireflies, and are working to create commercial lights that mimic the insects’ bioluminescence.
These migrants know why they keep moving
By Francisco Gavilán
When I was going to travel through Central Asia for the umpteenth time, I was looking for new and enriching experiences, including living for a while with the nomads of Song Kul, in Kyrgyzstan.
By Tara MacIsaac
Earth permanently deformed: Geologists have discovered that the Earth’s crust may not be as elastic as previously thought. Quakes in Northern Chile have permanently deformed the Earth.
Celebrating compassion and higher living across the globe
By Arshdeep Sarao
In India the full moon day of May 25, 2013, is being celebrated as Buddha Purnima or the birth anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni. This year the Buddha becomes 2,556 years old.
By Matthew Robertson
‘I didn’t take blood money from a government that is murdering its people,’ says Jeffrey Van Middlebrook, Silicon Valley inventor.
By Leonardo Vintini
Everybody longs for happiness, but it seems like a hidden treasure. One way or another—consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly—everything we do, our every hope, is related to a deep desire for happiness.
Tags: environmental issues, Science, Society, sustainable development, technology
Researchers engineer bacteria to produce first biofuel identical to commercial fuel
By Simon Veazey
Until now biofuels were not completely compatible with unconverted modern engines, working inefficiently and corrosively.
But researchers say they have genetically engineered bacteria, splicing in tree and algae genes, to produce hydrocarbons identical to those used in commercial fuel.
The research was carried out at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom (UK), producing modified E. coli bacteria that produce enzymes that convert sugar into fatty acids which in turn are converted into fuel.
Professor John Love at the University of Exeter said in a statement: “Producing a commercial biofuel that can be used without needing to modify vehicles has been the goal of this project from the outset.”
“Global demand for energy is rising and a fuel that is independent of both global oil price fluctuations and political instability is an increasingly attractive prospect,” he said.
The ecological credentials of biofuels produced from food crops are sometimes criticized. But Love believes that a scaled-up version of the process would enable them to adjust the genes to allow the bacteria to produce fuel from animal manure, not sugar.
The research was partly funded by Shell’s research division, Rob Lee from Shell Projects & Technology said in a statement: “ While the technology still faces several hurdles to commercialisation, by exploring this new method of creating biofuel, along with other intelligent technologies, we hope they could help us to meet the challenges of limiting the rise in carbon dioxide emissions while responding to the growing global requirement for transport fuel.”
Tags: China, Society, technology
China’s chokehold on minerals highlighted in report
Washington right now is supposed to be all about slashing budgets and tightening belts — but the Department of Defense has recently asked Congress for over a billion dollars. To buy rocks.
Specifically, to buy rare earth and other minerals that are crucial to the U.S. defense industry, and whose supply is currently at the mercy of China and its opaque political system. Japan, for example, was starved of rare earth elements during a maritime dispute with China in 2010. The United States wants to hedge that risk, given the damaging consequences an abrupt clampdown could entail.
The DoD has in previous years noted China’s near-monopoly on global rare earth metal production, but the present report, delivered to the House Armed Services Committee in late March, describes the risks in stark terms, and sketches out a range of scenarios.
One scenario has China embargoing exports of some key rare earth elements, and notes that currently the U.S. would be hamstrung.
Stockpiling some of the crucial elements is one of the proposed remedies for China’s control. It’s an idea that has hardly been heard since the later years of the Cold War, given the growth of globalized and largely unfettered trade that has characterized the last several decades.
Daniel McGroarty, principal of American Resources, a policy group, and president of U.S. Rare Earths, a mining company, referred to a reflection made by Adam Smith, the ideological father of free markets, over two hundred years ago: that when it comes to strategic items like sailcloth and gunpowder, “it might not always be prudent to depend upon our neighbors for the supply.”
Rare earth metals are to the the modern world what gunpowder and sailcloth were to 18th century Britain, McGroarty says, which explains the DoD’s concern.
“I think we lost sight of the geopolitical or strategic element that might cause countries to intervene in industry for reasons of advantage that are not just economic,” McGroarty said in a telephone interview. “I think we just didn’t see that. And now when we do see it, the situation has changed drastically.”
Two decades ago, McGroarty said, the rare earth market was split between the United States and China. “Now it’s become extraordinarily lopsided,” with China producing over 90 percent of supplies of rare earths.
The Department presents its report on Strategic and Critical Materials Report on Stockpile Requirements every other year. In the past it has noted China’s predominance in the rare earth metal space, but had not previously evinced the concerns seen now.
In a strategic risk assessment given in Appendix 12, the possibility of China cutting off rare earth exports was assigned a mean probability of only 4 percent, though with dire consequences. “Gross domestic product losses would be high, and the consequences would extend over a significant timeframe,” the report said.
It continued: “Economic consequences of war with China are high based on the mutual dependence between the two countries. Militarily the conflict would be violent, but quick; and we would get the better of it, at least in the next ten years. Politically, there would be some loss of credibility on both sides, due to the failure to prevent the war. Trade disruptions would also have major Chinese domestic political consequences.”
A scenario where China cuts off exports of some key minerals for a year “in an effort to coerce or punish the United states… as well as to drive up commodity prices,” was also considered. There would be a $1.2 billion shortfall for the 72 minerals considered.
Complicating the assessment is the sometimes haphazard and fragmented nature of how rare earths are obtained from China: in the south of the country, tens of thousands of metric tonnes of rare earths are thought to be wrung from the ground, and refined and exported, by a chaotic chain of fly-by-night mining operators — none of those figures go into the official books. Estimates for that illicit activity range from 10,000 to 40,000 metric tonnes per year.
At the height of its production, Molycorp, a U.S.-based miner of rare earth elements that was hit hard by China’s rock-bottom prices, says it planned to produce 20,000 metric tonnes of product in 2012. This means the underground Chinese supply component could be as much as double the entire U.S. supply, which goes some way to illustrating the opaque and potentially volatile nature of Chinese supply.
“Think about how nervous that would make a Pentagon planner,” McGroarty says.
Tags: archaeology, Chinese culture, funny things, Science, technology
By Xin Guo
Epoch Times Staff
Ancient Chinese science and technology were very advanced. The Ancient Chinese knew more about science and technology than any other culture. For instance, the yin-yang fish bowl that is part of the collection of the Hangzhou Museum in China’s Zhejiang Province cannot be explained by modern science nor replicated by modern technology. It remains a mystery to the world.
Among the collections of the Hangzhou Museum, there is a bronze spouting bowl named the “Yin-Yang Fish Bowl.” The bowl, which is about the size of a washbasin, has two handles and a decoration of four fish at the bottom. There are four clear parabolas drawn between the fish, just as those described in the Yi Jing (The Book of Changes). If you fill the bowl half-full of water and rub the handles with your palms, instantly the water in the bowl will tumble and the vibration will cause water to spout four two-foot-tall fountains from the mouth of each fish on the wall of the bowl. Moreover, the bowl will make the same sound as chanting the ancient divination words in the Yi Jing.
Bowl Cannot be Replicated by Any Modern Technology
Physicists from the U.S. and Japan have used all kinds of modern scientific instruments to examine and investigate the bowl trying to find out its construction principles of heat conductivity, sensoring, self-propelling, and spraying and making sound, but have not succeeded.
In October 1986, a replica bronze spouting bowl was made in the U.S. It looked identical to the yin-yang fish bowl but was a failure, as it could not function properly: It could not spout water, and the sound it made was very dull.
Modern science can only lament its insignificance before the miracles created by ancient Chinese technology and treat it as an unsolved mystery.
What were the principles upon which ancient people made the bronze fish bowl? As developed as it is today, why can’t modern science and technology make a replica of a bronze ware bowl made by people in ancient times?
According to experts’ analysis, modern science is analytical science. Characterized by high accuracy and strict quantification, it has reached the level of micro quantum technology. The so-called “Nami Technology” may very well represent the achievements of today’s high-tech. Yet modern science has a fatal weakness: linearism. Linear science still dominates today’s modern science and continues to apply a simplified approach to natural phenomena as always.
The real world and Mother Nature do not conform to linear principles, but in most cases non-linear theory instead. Modern science and technology are nothing but man-made simplification against the truth of Mother Nature.
Fountains of water that are similar to those in the bronze spouting fish bowl are called “solitary wave” or soliton phenomena. Different from ordinary waves, solitary waves do not disperse when occurring, and therefore can last a long time. The existence of solitary waves is a non-linear phenomenon.
Thus the construction principles of the yin-yang fish bowl are far beyond the scope of modern science, and it is therefore impossible for modern technology to replicate.
Tags: Body & Mind, Children, psychology, technology
Physical therapy moves to the cloud under the Fifth Element project
The ambitious Fifth Element project aims to support the more than 60 million people who suffer from autism by using none other than the Microsoft Kinect, originally designed for video games on the Xbox 360.
The Fifth Element project is being led by Italian Ingenium, a four-man team with a passion for technology. Their project is already being used in rehabilitation centers, and is poised to spread across the globe in the next several months.
Kinect is a player-recognition system. Resembling a large webcam, the Kinect is placed on top of a television set and detects a player’s movements, which can then be used as commands for a video game. Yet, thanks to Web-based remote assistance services, even those who cannot physically access a rehabilitation center can learn and undergo therapy using Kinect.
“It’s a simple idea, and we can immediately see its potential impact on people,” said Matteo Valoriani, a 26-year-old student at Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan), and a creator of the Fifth Element project.
Matteo came up with the idea in December 2011 during a friendly chat with a friend who works in physical therapy. The friend told him how difficult it was for rehabilitation centers to meet with autistic children in need.
Specialized technology for similar purposes is very expensive. Yet, with Fifth Element, all that’s needed is a television, an Xbox 360, and a Kinect. The program itself is also simple, creating an interactive platform with standard images, voice, and text.
Each game and activity is developed with a specific therapy in mind.
Every game can be directly customized by the therapist to use different features and different levels of difficulty. The therapist can also change settings for the game remotely while interacting with the child over the Internet and from anywhere in the world.
After a session is completed, it can be saved so that parents can reuse it with their child on their own time.
“We are working to allow the child to see the therapist on screen real time, and they can interact on the screen thanks to the Kinect,” said Valoriani.
The Fifth Element project won the July Health Awareness Award during the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012, out of 350 students from more than 200 countries. Willing the first prize at the competition in Australia helped the team get global attention for the new concept.
Connecting with the Kinect
The Fifth Element also gives autistic children the opportunity to connect with other autistic children—children who are often isolated from others. Controlling the game is also simple, since it’s based on actual movements. “It doesn’t seem like you are having control of an object,” Valoriani said. “It seems like you are the object.”
The game creates virtual characters that children can recognize as their digital avatars, and they can use the avatars to develop relationships with other children. “In some cases, it happens that the child teaches another child how to play,” said Valoriani, who is noticeably pleased with the results.
While the system is built to allow interaction regardless of distance, it can also be used by two children in the same room, or at a rehabilitation center under the supervision of the therapist.
Parents also have a level of control. They can update the statistics on the child’s progress, which the therapist can use as notes for the next treatment. The data is saved for other doctors who may do therapy for the child.
At the center of Benedetta d’Intino of Milan and the association Astrolabio, doctors have welcomed the experiments and have helped refine the system through feedback. Much of this refinement is used to improve interactive activities and to quickly develop new games.
The system’s custom platform, Azure, gets better every week, and its uses are already being considered for uses in other fields—including in education.
Valoriani says the name, Fifth Element, is based on the ancient theory of the five elements that constitute the world.
“We happen to live in a world where we have more technology than we need,” said Valoriani. “In the past, research was done until there was a realization that a project could move no further due to technological boundaries. Today it is totally different—we have the technology, but we don’t know how to use it.”
Tags: environmental issues, Food, Society, sustainable development, technology
Several tons of fruit that used to go to waste daily in a small Indonesian town are now being turned into biogas to produce electricity, thanks to foreign aid from a city in Sweden whose success in waste management is setting a global example.
The fruit market in Sleman on the Indonesian island of Java, the world’s most populous island, used to dump four tons of fruit every day. In the heat, with no means of refrigeration, the fruit brought there in the morning would go bad by the following day.
That presented a challenge but also an opportunity when two waste management experts from the University of Boras, Sweden, visited the island and studied the situation.
Professor Mohammad Taherzade and Olle Engstrom, coordinator of the Waste Recovery Project in Indonesia, decided to arrange for two students from Indonesia’s Gadjah Mada University to come to Boras to learn about waste management.
At the university’s School of Engineering, the students learned about biogas production and how to build facilities to produce this source of energy.
“That meant that dealers at the market could generate their own electricity and wouldn’t have to buy it,” Engstrom said. “Also, it would get rid of the stink from the fruit waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The environment would improve.”
Upon their return to Sleman, the students became project managers and designed a local biogas facility for the town to transform its waste into useful energy.
The Waste Recovery Project did not only involve the Gadjah Mada University, but it also started working with local authorities, business owners, and the fruit dealers themselves in Sleman to educate them in the fundamentals of environmental science.
The Swedes taught them the Boras model of collaboration, enabling all the parties to share experiences and knowledge and solve problems together.
Success from Collaboration
“Our model is based on mobilizing the citizens and helping them to understand why it is important to recycle,” said Par Carlsson of Boras Energy and Environment, one of the partners providing support to the Waste Recovery Project in Indonesia.
The small city of Boras in southwest Sweden first formed a group in 1980 to push forward its work on energy recovery, recycling, and waste management. The group consisted of representatives from the local university and other academic institutions, as well as the local government.
Involving all of these stakeholders turned out to be a recipe for success. The group found that it was able to make big changes with small means, and the resulting model has given the town not only a cleaner environment but also improved living conditions for its citizens.
Of the 200,000 tons of garbage collected annually, only 4 percent now ends up in dumps; 30,000 tons of pure, biological waste is turned into 3 million cubic meters of biogas, which is used to power the city’s buses, garbage trucks, and taxis.
Anything that is recyclable is recycled, and the burnable waste is used to heat water that is distributed through an underground pipeline system to homes and buildings in Boras.
Thus, Boras has become something of an international authority on waste management, with its model now spreading across the globe.
Sweden government agencies funded the Waste Recovery Project in Sleman as a foreign aid effort, and the project has since become a partner for waste management in other Indonesian jurisdictions and institutions as well.
For example, there are many garbage dumps in Indonesia, which presented another opportunity for energy recovery from waste.
While the garbage is not sorted but just put in landfills, “we have established proper biogas facilities as well as gas-production facilities at landfills in a number of Indonesian cities,” said Carlsson.
The waste recovery work in Boras is not only a success in waste management, but also in various aspects of local community building.
The synergy has produced many beneficial effects in different sectors of society in Boras, including industries, Carlsson said. And this experience is helping Indonesia as well, where, for example, experts from Boras are helping the city of Palu build a sustainable city for the future.
Annika Siwertz of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) lauded the Waste Recovery Project when its first collaboration began in Indonesia last year. She called the Boras model one of the best examples of foreign aid she had ever seen, noting that SIDA only had to invest “very little money.”
Apart from Indonesia, the waste management experts in Boras have established partnerships with universities in Nigeria, Brazil, the United States, and Vietnam, and they are currently involved in talks with interested groups in numerous other countries.
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Tags: environmental issues, Nature, Science, sustainable development, technology
Report kept secret for 2 years
The French government, since 2010, has kept secret that Mururoa Atoll, the site of French nuclear testing in the Pacific, is in danger of collapsing, according to Mururoa e Tatou MET, the Nuclear Association in French Polynesia.
“In the soil of Mururoa, if something happens there is about 150 holes containing very dangerous radioactivity.”
MET, an organization working to secure restitution for victims of French nuclear testing in Tahiti, has been trying to raise the issue with the French government and public, Mr Oldham said.
He was disappointed the French government hadn’t released the report earlier.
He said the implications if only one part of Mururoa collapsed were “really frightening” and would impact the international community as well.
“I think it would be a really big problem to the environment if this nuclear radioactivity is to be diluted in the ocean and from there we have no control over what would happen next,” Mr Oldham said in the Pacific Beat interview.
There have been concerns that part of the Mururoa Atoll could collapse into the sea due to atomic tests from the 1960s to the late 1990s. Back in 1997, one year after the final, highly controversial nuclear test, an official report referred to the risks, Newsweek UK online reported.
Yet, the leaked report, Mr Oldham says, makes no mention of radioactivity.
“In this report we got not too long ago, they’re not even talking about radioactivity,” he told Pacific Beat. “The way they present it, it’s like it’s not very dangerous.”
In a video recorded last month with Breaking the Nuclear Chain, Mr Oldham was cited as saying that Mururoa and other atolls were the site of atomic explosions up to 170 times stronger than that used in the bombing of Hiroshima.
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Tags: Body & Mind, design, funny things, technology
GOTHENBURG, Sweden—In Sweden, wearing a bicycle helmet is optional for adults—and most adults opt not to wear one. Two industrial design students, preparing their degree project, wanted to know why. The answer set the wheels in motion to create the seemingly impossible.
It was the spring of 2005 that Lund University students Terese Alstin and Anna Haupt decided to collaborate to improve the concept of the bicycle helmet, so that adults would want to use them. There had just been an intense debate in Sweden over helmet legislation, which resulted in making them mandatory for children up to 16 years old.
It was clear from the social dialogue that while adult bicyclists did want to protect their heads, they were reluctant to use helmets.
The two young women began researching the reasons why people would not wear helmets. They got survey answers like, “It looks geeky,” “It gets too warm,” “It messes up my hair,” and “It should be invisible.” The last answer might sound unrealistic, but Anna Haupt explains that they reacted differently.
“We thought it was a brilliant idea. That was exactly what we wanted ourselves, because we weren’t using traditional bicycle helmets either,” she said.
The word “invisible” from the survey spawned their revolutionary idea: an airbag bicycle helmet.
Their project supervisor was a professor at the faculty of engineering at Lund University in southern Sweden.
“He was very impressed with the fact that our idea was so radically different from your usual idea of a bicycle helmet,” Haupt explains.